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Bringing Final Fantasy Back from the Edge of Crisis

[Image: Square Enix]
[Image: Square Enix]
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Last week, Square Enix showed it was throwing all it had behind Final Fantasy XV. This is a big game and has the anime and live-action CGI spin-off to prove it. While Square Enix might seem like it’s back on sure Final Fantasy footing, it was only a few years ago things seemed anything but.

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In the most recent issue of Famitsu, Hajime Tabata, who’s now in charge of Final Fantasy at Square Enix, gave honest and frank insights about the challenges that Square Enix has overcome and what’s ahead. Japanese game developers, especially in Famitsu interviews, can often seem to hold back. Tabata, however, doesn’t.

Final Fantasy XV was first announced back in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII and has since been reborn as Final Fantasy XV. Confirming what he previously told Kotaku, Tabata said work began on FFXV in July (note: Kotaku first reported that FF Versus XIII was no more that same month, which was later proven true) however, work didn’t formally begin on FFXV until the following year. From the sound of it, what he’s done is reorganized how the teams work and brought a fresh perspective to making Final Fantasy.

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Tabata recalled the desire to make Final Fantasy competitive again as well as modern, but agreed that “there was an impending sense of doom.” Continuing, he added, “When I took over that increased. When we moved forward with the game as FFXV, within the company and among other developers, especially foreign ones, there was a sense more and more that things were worse for Final Fantasy as an IP than previously thought. I realized that when I was in a position to experience that kind of heat first hand.”

“Before there was a sense of crisis for the IP, the reality is that what was being aimed for wasn’t actually created,” Tabata continued. “I know there are various critical opinions regarding Final Fantasy XIII, too, but obviously that wasn’t the original intent, and the expectation was surely much higher. But what resulted was a game that was dubbed linear. Rather than that being the aim, I think that was due to doing things the way they’ve always been done and the inability to break through the barrier of HD games.”

Tabata said that changing this was no easy task and readily admits that things aren’t easy for Final Fantasy. But Tabata hasn’t given up, neither has his team, and neither should you. Yet.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

I’m really glad that Final Fantasy seems to be getting back on track, the funny thing is really it just kind of took listening to fans. If the development of XV has shown over the past year or so Square has really taken fan feedback to heart. There is still work to do to do though on the brand side of things, I’m convinced if a game this ambitious, seemingly well designed, and generally just huge had any other name BUT Final Fantasy it would be doing better in terms of hype then it is.